Friday, July 22, 2011

Allergy Adventures, Facially Speaking

The past several days have been interesting and frustrating. To save time,I'll describe the events by copying an email I sent to Mr. Gardner yesterday:

I have been having some weird issues with lip swelling for several days. Let me give you the background:

My lips ALWAYS swell overnight- they have ever since I was little. This happens to my sister too, who is not a musician, so I've never really thought much of it (***AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have inquired with my sister about this, and it's possible that I made it up***). I usually have to wait about 2 hours after I wake up to be able to play.

With this internship, I have only been able to play on average about 1.5 hours a day. I have been VERY smart about my playing. I warm up every day, and I have not been pushing it too hard at all. I've been doing lots of lip flexibility exercises. I stop if I feel fatigued. I've been doing everything right!

For about 2 days, my lips were feeling really tight and inflexible. Then, on Tuesday, they started to feel very puffy after my evening practice session (just a normal 30 minute session working on excerpts for the Air Force audition- nothing too strenuous). When I woke up on Wednesday morning, my lips felt TERRIBLE, with the majority of the problem being in my upper lip. It is not localized to the area where my mouthpiece contacts the lip, but spread out in the middle of my lip. It is a puffy, tingly feeling. I did not play all day on Wednesday. When I woke up this morning, it felt a little worse. I had to play a little bit on a concert with the kids today, but not much at all. I basically had to play everything on my lower lip- I could not put any pressure on my upper lip at all. When I was done playing, there was no visible evidence that i had been playing at all, no ring around my lip or anything, but my upper lip especially felt terrible. I'm not playing for the rest of the day, and not for a few days after that.

I am VERY confused as to what is happening. I can't believe that this could be an overuse issue due to how little I have been playing, especially since I have been playing very smartly. I'm wondering if it is instead some sort of allergy, perhaps to a food. I've been doing some internet searching and it seems that the most common reaction to a mild food allergy is the swelling of the lips. I'm going to go to an allergist as soon as possible.

What are your thoughts? What else should I be doing? How long should I take off of playing? I am really concerned and I don't know what to do!

Sounds like a lot of fun, right? Luckily, I didn't have to go in to OrchKids today and was able to get to the allergist. If you've never had an allergy test before, let me tell you how awesome it is. After taking a detailed history, the allergist does what is called a scratch test. Basically, you get a surface scratch of a potential allergen. This test is usually done on the forearms, but they won't test over a tattoo, so I had the entire test done on my back. I was scratched with 56 different allergens. FIFTY-SIX. After the initial scratch, you have to sit there and wait for 20 minutes for any potential reaction to set in. This is a very uncomfortable 20 minutes.

After this initial test, the nurses come in and measure the reactions somehow (I couldn't see what they were doing since it was all happening on my back). Here is a list of things to which I am allergic, in order from least depressing to most depressing:

*cockroaches (I do not intentionally harm any sentient being, but I still have not made peace with certain insects)
*TEN different types of grass

I love grass. It is excellent for laying purposes. I eat apples and carrots nearly every single day. I have two cats.

Gracie and Isla

I have to go back to the allergist again next week for further testing. The allergist was really nice, and actually thanked me for coming in with such a peculiar case. I have all these crazy allergies, but none of them manifest with normal symptoms. Instead, they manifest with special Rachel symptoms like lip swelling.

At the end of the day, my top lip is pretty much fine but my bottom lip is still pretty puffy. Hopefully this will all subside in a day or two and I'll be able to play again. Yay!

Hoping this post is greeting you in an air conditioned environment,


1 comment:

  1. I literally exclaimed out loud WHAAAAAAAAA when I read the list of things you're allergic too...holy crap. Didn't you say you felt worse after an apple? AND CATS?? What did the allergist say about the severity of them, and is there any way you can still partake in those things? Is there anything you can take? Oh, Rachie, I'm sorry! Keep us updated. :(

    Upon my return we will sup on treats that don't include carrots, apples, or kitties